I'm sitting here at my computer on a rainy Adelaide afternoon. My daughter is home sick from school today - her chest sounds like a freight train. It's cold outside and very gray.
I've just completed the initial editing phase on my manuscript and I have just submitted it to my publisher, Central Avenue Publishing.
I kinda, sorta can't believe it!
In the month or so since I last posted here, I have been furiously working on the manuscript, going through several phases of editing. Part of that process has involved putting together a team of beta readers. A beta group is something that will be familiar to a lot of writers in the pre publishing phase, but for the general audience, a beta group for a story works the same as a beta version for a piece of software.
I put the draft out to my group to test the early version and I sought their participation to get their impressions of the story, to offer advice on what works and what doesn't and to discuss the technical aspects of the narrative. The group came through in spades and I took all of their feedback, printed it out and stuck it on my office wall so I could refer to it as I worked my way through the editing process here.
And, to me, they're not just any readers. They are an amazing group of people - my own Story Group, if you will. I want to take a moment to give them a shout out here, because each of them have brought something really to this part of the process.
Molly Ringle is a Seattle based author and ridiculously brilliant word smith. I have come to regard Molly as my mentor and shadow (me being the shadow).
Molly has had a fantastic career an author who has routinely explored multiple genres. Her works have explored the paranormal, romance, coming of age and epic fantasy.
Having recently completed a trilogy of novels informed by Greek mythology, Molly is about to release a another genre bending epic with The Goblins of Bellwater which is due for release later this year.
Scottish based Australian author Georgina Penney has been a mainstay of romantic fiction in this country over the past few years with her much loved series of novels set in the gorgeous Margaret River region of Western Australia.
Georgina has also been a strong supporter of up and coming romance authors and has spoken widely about the genre to writing groups and professional organizations.
This year saw the release of her latest novel "The Barbershop Girl" which marked the conclusion of a series of books following the Blaine sisters.
Georgina has been a champion of mine. She kindly offered her assistance on my previous novel "The Recipient" and her romantic nous has been invaluable on Walhalla.
Another of my Central Avenue Publishing stable mates is Minnesota author Abbie Williams whose Shore Leave series of romance novels along with her more recent Civil War epic romance novels have won hearts all over the world as well as significant plaudits from her peers.
Abbie has been a constant support of both myself and other Central Avenue authors and we've benefited from her astute story telling skills and eye for detail. She's encouraged me to be brave with the editing process. Whenever I have felt unsure about how to proceed (or whether to proceed) Abbie has been there, giving me the nudge towards editorial courage. And I've loved it.
I've been a fan of Melbourne based author Ashleigh Oldfield for a long time now and she has always been in my corner, encouraging me and offering her perspective on story telling which I have always valued.
Ashleigh is another author who consistently steps outside of her comfort zone, exploring multiple genres and occupying them handsomely, with rich narratives and bold characterization.
Ashleigh has been great in identifying little character nuances and encouraging me to explore them deeper.
Queensland based blogger and reviewer Gem Blackwell has been a dear friend of mine for several years now. We've shared the coal face as paediatric nurses and we've continued our friendship into our respective writing pursuits.
Gem is a food and health blogger and she has extended herself into longer form writing, undertaking further education in creative writing. Gem is another writer with an astute eye for word economy and I've valued her advice greatly.
It has been a long and laborious task. Working back through a years worth of material, you come across scenes and story that you may not have looked at for a considerable amount of time and it can be a little jarring. You see all of its warts and imperfections. You see how bloated and full of repetition, over description and riddled with errors it is. It makes you cringe and want to tear it to pieces. Well - it did me.
Somehow, the ingredients were all there, laying underneath the fat and blubber. Gradually, I've uncovered them, cutting away all of the gunk and grunge and, I have to say, it's looking pretty sharp.
The process is not over and, indeed, the life of this book is not yet assured. But, I am encouraged to be in the place that I am now and free to think a little more clearly before I delve back into more revisions.